The Portrait of a Lady
by Henry James
It’s no wonder Pansy chooses to fall in love with Edward Rosier – he shares many characteristics with her dear old dad, without any of his scheming malevolence. Like Osmond, Rosier is a passionate collector of beautiful objects, and, like Osmond, he’s a thoroughly Europeanized American (even more so, actually – his English is sprinkled with French words out of lack of vocabulary, rather than pretension).
However, unlike Osmond, Rosier seems to cultivate an extremely personal relationship with all of his bibelots. He loves his precious things, and his adoration of his collection – and of all fine things in general – has something of a child’s obsession with a stuffed animal collection (or, in our case, a much-beloved My Little Pony collection). Osmond, on the other hand, seems to treat his objects like actual stuffed animals – as though they are taxidermied to preserve their beauty, but are ultimately dead. Yuck.
Rosier’s relationship with Pansy is initially modeled on his love for his rare porcelain. While he originally appreciates her for her beauty and ineffable style, Isabel observes that he grows to truly love her as (gasp!) a person. This, of course, is unlike Osmond’s attitude towards his daughter, whom he seems to regard as a life-sized doll to be trundled around and sold off to the highest bidder.
Rosier wants desperately to win Pansy, not just to look at her and put her out for display, but to tenderly care for her. In a final bid to win his beloved, he symbolically sells all of his precious things (well, except for his enamel collection) in an attempt to gain the one precious thing he really wants.